Oak Harbor sinks Cascade

Junior Jason Hunter swims in the backstroke against Cascade Thursday night. He took first in the event, which he does not normally compete in, with a time of 1:16.03. - Cynthia Woolbright
Junior Jason Hunter swims in the backstroke against Cascade Thursday night. He took first in the event, which he does not normally compete in, with a time of 1:16.03.
— image credit: Cynthia Woolbright

It’s all about the district meet. The Oak Harbor swim team has only one league meet left, Tuesday against 0-6 Everett, before they take to the district swim waters Feb. 13-15. Any chances for state competition, as well as the Wildcats’ last chance for redemption against WesCo North dominators Marysville-Pilchuck and Snohomish, rest on their district times.

The Cats finished the week topping Cascade 119-66 Thursday evening. The win brings their season record to 5-2 in league, 10-2 overall. Oak Harbor’s only tallies in the loss column are an early season loss to Snohomish 131-55, and Tuesday’s loss to Marysville-Pilchuck 111-75.

Wildcat swimmers agree Marysville and Snohomish will be the two teams to gun for at the district meet, and currently they are one and two respectively in the WesCo North standings.

“We don’t have a large team, and these other teams have a solid selection of good swimmers, and depth in their numbers,” senior captain Andrew Bressler said. “We’re really going to have to work our butts off in our tapers and have the best races of the season if we want to do well at districts.”

A number of Cats are right on the edge of state qualifying times.

Junior Kyle Ciminski is roughly one-tenth of a second away from making a state time in the 50 freestyle, and one-second shy of a qualifying time in the 100 butterfly. Last year Ciminski placed tenth in the 50 free, was a member of the 200 medley and 200 free relay teams, and he swam the 100 fly, though he did not place.

Jason Hunter is also poised for success at the district meet. Hunter, a junior returning state relay member, is a distance swimmer who has dominated the 200 free and 500 free this season. He’s “aiming for the top three at districts in either event.” To do so, Hunter will need to drop 10-seconds in the 500 free, and 5-seconds in the 200 free. Already this season he’s dropped 11-seconds from his 500 free and 5-seconds from his 200 free.

“Right now time we drop will increase as we go from intense training into our taper, so by districts we should be looking good,” Hunter said.

As far as priorities, Hunter said he’ll be swimming after a state qualifying time during the prelims and at the district finals he’ll put it into high gear to nab a top spot.

Last Tuesday senior captain Colby Wiley placed first in the 100 fly with a time of 56.79 against Marysville-Pilchuck, that’s .29 off a state qualifying time. But Wiley is taking a quiet leadership role in his final season. Despite the fact he was a state relay team member and placed 16 at state in the 100 fly, Wiley will not compete at the district meet and therefore will not return to state in his senior year.

Instead, Wiley has chosen to shift his focus to his “future career field” of music. He’s being considered for acceptance, pending an audition, to the prestigious Eastman School of Music in New York, and the University of Washington has already accepted Wiley into their ranks.

“My goal this year has been to contribute to the team as much as I could while I have also been working on my music,” Wiley said. “I really wanted to be here to support the team as much as I could, even if I didn’t compete as much.”

Other Cats to expect on the prowl at districts include junior Josh Walkuw, Brian Luttrell and the Wildcat divers.

Junior Clayton Shepard returns to the district board, along with newcomers freshman Frankie Lovell and senior Tim Harasti.

Each has brought their own skill levels and style to the board, and together evolved into a tight-knit, solid squad, according to assistant coach Brett Hinson.

“Clayton’s a diver who always throws his skills consistently and is able to score consistently,” Hinson said. “Frankie is real athletic and wasn’t afraid to try new things from the first day on the board, and Tim has possibly the most powerful explosiveness off the board in the league,” Hinson said summing up his dive squad.

Hinson was added to Oak Harbor’s staffing roster this year as assistant coach, and has been using his youth and experience with diving to help fine tune the Cats’ spring and twist off the board.

The Oak Harbor dive program is still in its infancy, but already is proving to be a knock-around kid. Thursday against Cascade the Cats claimed the top three spots with Lovell 135.80, Shepard 134.65 and Harasti 116.30, and have helped bring points during the season to close meets.

All three have qualified for the district meet by performing 11 dives each already during the season. They will get a glimpse of district competition at the divisional dive competition Feb. 1 at Kamiak.

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